Fines for the late return of books from Macleay libraries will be removed from July 1 2020 following the decision made by council at their first meeting for 2020.
While late fines can work to improve the timely return of items, it can also result in some library members ceasing to use the library, or simply waiting for an amnesty period to return overdue items.
Kempsey Library Coordinator Angie Meers said the decision to abolish late fees is a benefit to the community and the library.
"The fines didn't have any benefit to the community and could even stop people from wanting to use the library," she said.
"We're a community facility and the late fines are an archaic mechanism. Not having fines for late items might encourage more people to become a library member."
Studies undertaken by other libraries that have removed late fines have experienced an increase in the number of library members and an increase in use by current members.
Local libraries will also be using an automatic renewal system and have begun teaching members how they can renew items online.
"We don't want to place more hardships on people and still want them to be encouraged to use library services," Angie said.
The financial impact on council in removing late fines is assessed as being minimal. The income from library fines for late books was $236.65 during the 2017/2018 financial year and $215.58 in 2019.
Council also runs an annual 'food for fines' amnesty where fines for late items are waived in exchange for donated food items for local charities. While the fines waived through the 'food for fines' program are not tracked, council staff estimate that approximately $350 in fines are waived each year.
"Overall, I think removing the fines will be beneficial to the community and for staff. A number of public libraries have already removed late fines."
Fines will still remain in place for lost or damaged items.
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